ABERDEEN | As summer burns on, an Aberdeen clinic keeps children's communication skills developing when schools can't.
The Avera St. Luke's Scottish Rite Speech and Language Clinic operates out of the Avera Therapy Center and is open to any child, preschool age on up, Aberdeen American News reported.
"We target 3 to 16. The birth to 3 (program) works with younger children," said Amy Fedoruk, a speech and language pathologist at Avera St. Luke's Hospital. "The school-age kids are sometimes the ones that fall through the cracks. We tend to work with kids who have delays that maybe don't have as much remediation."
Generally, schools assist with speech and communication skills during the school year. The schools have testing to determine if a child needs help, and what type.
Those who need a little help benefit from the clinic. For example, Fedoruk said, a child might need some more work to correctly pronounce K sounds.
For other children, the clinic is a summer secondary support program to complement school-year assistance. A summer slide can affect communication skills.
"During the summer, we get a lot of referrals from the schools because there are kids who don't meet the requirements for the extended school program," Fedoruk said.
"No one will be turned away from the Scottish Rite clinic," she said.
That includes those who are unable to pay.
Fedoruk said parents have expressed a lot of gratitude for the program. The Scottish Rite Speech and Language Clinic has 10 or so local children in the program at any given time, she said. The Scottish Rite Masons fund it. There are four programs in South Dakota and more scattered across the nation.
"About 10 percent of the population has a communication disorder," Fedoruk said. "We know that the younger years are really important for language development. I think we are better at identifying communication problems now and how they impact the individual.
"We look at language, memory, problem-solving ..." she said. "We tend to do mostly one-on-one, play-based (curriculum). We realize they are working, so work should be fun."
Children can be both the most challenging and the most rewarding people to work with.
"I like their enthusiasm and motivation level," Fedoruk said. "I also like to figure out how to motivate these kids to do something. Some days you can't beat some of the stories you hear. I know why I do this job."